Warren Cook BS, MBA, MS, SHRM-certified of SymbianceHR, will present the webinar “Got Diversity. Get Inclusion! and the Pending FLSA Changes” on July 10, 2019. Warren answered many commonly asked questions on our blog in anticipation of this webinar.

Diversity and Inclusion appears to be a very relevant topic in recent years, why is that ?

Organizations recognize that implementing effective strategies to leverage the diversity of a workforce into an inclusive culture creates both engagement and a competitive advantage.

What is the difference between Diversity and Inclusion ?

This is the fundamental challenge for organizations who lack the expertise to understand the differences in these terms. Diversity is what the workforce already has, no matter what age, color, race, gender, etc. exists, the workforce has diversity. You can’t “get” diversity, you always have it. What you can do, is leverage the diversity that exists into a competitive advantage through effective development of an inclusive culture. Inclusion is simply the act of including everyone, therefore, if an organization can understand the valuable diverse perspectives and experiences that exist in their workforce, they can harness the capabilities and insight of the workforce to drive sustainable success.

Is inclusion just that simple, include everyone ?

Not at all, if it were simple it would not be a consistent topic across a plethora of media platforms. Almost a decade ago large organizations began the movement of hiring D&I executives to explore this migration to a more inclusive culture. Once the success was achieved and repeatable, the word got out and businesses wanted to reap the rewards of diversity and inclusion strategic initiatives, however lacked the skills or competence to recognize what needed to be done. Hence, they focused on what they believed was “getting diversity” versus leverage inclusion.

What do you mean by “getting diversity ” ?

Many of us were trained for years that diversity meant hiring minorities and females, with the implementation of quotas in the workforce, and a requirement to provide preferential treatment to these protected individuals. Programs and initiatives were launched to simply target and acquire minorities and females just to achieve illegal quotas that were misunderstood from affirmative action plan goals. Over time, leaders drilled into our minds this approach, and eventually diversity, something that already exists, became something a company went after to achieve compliance. Obviously, if diversity already exists then something else has to be done. Certainly, Affirmative Action programs are still required for certain organizations, and those organizations need to comply with those regulations. However, when we talk about competitive advantage by building an inclusive culture, we are not referring to affirmative action programs.

What is the competitive advantage you are talking about ?

Engaging the workforce to expand your lens of the world, your products, your services, and the valuable insight and perspective every employee can bring to the table to support business success. Some organizations complain about millennials, instead they should be listening to their millennial staff to help modify their products and services to maximize market share in this demographic. Perhaps the business is seeking to break into a new demographic market, such as the Latino market. Instead of guessing what the needs of this market are, ask your employees who are Latino, and proactively and strategically involve these employees in planning and analysis activities including them in the process. These are examples of being inclusive. Taking these strategies to heart, you can quickly begin to see how you can improve your competitive advantage over the competition while improving internal engagement, trust, and communication with your existing workforce.

Warren is the president and co-founder of SymbianceHR and provides strategic oversight for service delivery, business operations, and technical guidance on consulting engagements. He is a human resources subject matter expert with over 20 years of experience as a strategic business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations.

Be sure to register for the webinar and check out our other HR resources, such as our online compliance training courses in the Basics of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Preventing and Addressing Workplace Harassment and Bullying. Be on the lookout for our upcoming radio show with Warren. And check out Warren’s other blog, Demonstrating the ROI of HR for your Business and webinar, Risk Management of Employment Practices, now on YouTube.